Phlebotomists are clinical laboratory workers responsible for drawing and collecting blood for various sample, testing and donation purposes. These professionals routinely obtain small amounts of blood by pricking a subject’s finger—a practice called fingerstick. When larger samples are required, a phlebotomist may perform a venipuncture—the process of obtaining blood intravenously.
Phlebotomists are trained to draw blood from live people or animals. They may work in a variety of settings, including:
Phlebotomists are required to wear protective clothing and take other precautions while working with potentially infectious specimens. In addition, these professionals should have expertise in the safe and accurate practices of handling blood for sample and donation purposes. Strong attention to detail as well as excellent communication and interpersonal skills are keys to succeeding in this profession.
Professional phlebotomists are required to complete a certified training program in safe, standard phlebotomy practices. A bachelor’s degree in medical technology from an accredited online or on-site educational institution may benefit professionals seeking positions with high profile employers or organizations.
Many states may require clinical laboratory technicians, including phlebotomists, to become licensed or certified by passing written or clinical tests. In addition, some employers may encourage phlebotomists to complete continuing education or supplemental training.
The salary range for phlebotomists often depends on their locations and work settings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for clinical laboratory technicians was $36,280 in May 2010. Professionals on the lowest end of the pay scale earned an average of $24,210 annually while those on the highest end averaged $56,040 per year for this same period.
The job outlook is considered very favorable for clinical laboratory workers, with 14 percent growth expected through 2018. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects this strong growth due to the projected increase in the number of laboratory tests throughout the country.